I’m going to keep this review short for one simple reason: Mr Malcolm’s List was one of the worst books I’ve read this year. I went in with low expectations: the reviews were… not great. But I decided to give it a shot because it was a short standalone book, which is not very common in the historical romance genre.
The Honorable Jeremy Malcolm is searching for a wife, but not just any wife. He’s determined to elude the fortune hunters and find a near-perfect woman, one who will meet the qualifications on his well-crafted list. But after years of searching, he’s beginning to despair of finding this paragon. And then Selina Dalton arrives in town…
Selina, a vicar’s daughter of limited means and a stranger to high society, is thrilled when her friend Julia invites her to London. Until she learns it’s part of a plot to exact revenge on Mr. Malcolm. Selina is reluctant to participate in Julia’s scheme, especially after meeting the irresistible Mr. Malcolm, who seems very different from the arrogant scoundrel of Julia’s description.
But when Mr. Malcolm begins judging Selina against his unattainable standards, Selina decides that she has qualifications of her own. And if he is to meet them he must reveal the real man behind…Mr. Malcolm’s List.
What were the issues of this book? I’ll start with the characters. The titular Mr Malcom is an arrogant asshole with no redeeming features. He had a mile long list of requirements for a potential wife, and really didn’t bring anything to the table himself. Julia, who was jilted by Mr Malcolm, was also detestable. She uses her naive friend Selina to exact revenge – going as far as to lock Selina in a room and pretending to be her to ruin Selina and Mr Malcolm’s relationship. Selina, on the other, was inconsistent at best. Her characterization was all over the map – sometimes she was a strong-headed woman, sometimes she was a massive pushover and doormat, and sometimes she was just irreconcilably stupid. Her romance with Mr Malcolm left a bad taste in my mouth – they didn’t seem good together and spent more time fighting than being in love.
The writing quality in this book was poor – I’ve read better unedited books on fanfiction sites. It was just exceptionally… plain. The description of the setting was lacking and the technical quality was just meh. The pacing of the plot was also really bizarre – it was inconsistent and felt like the author was filling time instead of actually finishing the story. This book definitely could have been a novella instead of a novel.
There is simply nothing appealing about Mr Malcolm’s List: the characters are indecisive at best and malicious and stupid at worst, the plot was non-existent, and the romance was painful. I would highly recommend that you don’t waste your time with this book. I sincerely hope the upcoming movie adaptation will be better. If you’re looking for a good historical romance, check out Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore. 1/5